Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Artcraft! I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director of World of Warcraft, and for this second entry I’ve gathered a group of Warlords of Draenor developers to talk a bit about Garrisons—specifically, how our artists are working closely with the game designers to ensure that the visuals we’re crafting support their design goals.
We’re not really going to get into the details of how Garrisons work here, like specific mechanics of their design. Think of this more as a behind-the-scenes glimpse into our art process with two of our groups: our dungeon art team, which is responsible for all the Garrison's large buildings, walls, gates, and so on; and our prop art team, which is focused on the profession buildings and all of the awesome details you’ll find inside of them.
"Hey Everyone! The Garrison feature is going to be a huge part of your core experience in Warlords of Draenor, so it’s really exciting to get a chance to talk about it. As Chris mentioned, it's a massive feature with a lot of different moving parts, one of the biggest of which is the visuals—and that’s where our art team comes in. We knew we wanted the Garrison to feel like a big new feature, but we also wanted to keep it familiar, like bringing a piece of home to Draenor. There is just something about running into Stormwind or Orgrimmar that evokes that sense of faction pride, and that’s exactly what we wanted out of the Garrison. The art team was able to work with us to deliver brand new art that still evokes those feelings from our faction capitals.
Nailing the look is just one part of the process though. A big part of the feature is being able to increase your Garrison’s power over time, and we wanted to make sure you see that reflected in the art. This means that all of the Garrison buildings have to have multiple, and increasingly epic visual upgrades. The plot system used for Garrisons—which allows you to customize your layout and place buildings anywhere—presented a unique challenge for the art team, since even though a building needs to look more epic at each upgrade, it couldn’t actually change shape at the base. Check out some of the under-development examples below.
—Cory Stockton, Lead Content Designer
When working on the Garrison, we decided to start with the Alliance buildings first, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on today. When we first began, we thought, "Wouldn’t it be cool for players to get to have some of the original buildings from back in Elwynn and Redridge in their Garrison? Our resident Concept Wizard (actual title) Jimmy Lo ran with this idea of a “trip down memory lane” by bringing back a lot of those early buildings, and we worked on trying to keep a lot of familiar parts of the buildings intact while updating themwith new textures.
After trying that idea out, we began to notice the buildings were looking too familiar—it wasn't epic enough, and wasn't looking like something you’d expect to see in this big new feature. So we updated the recipe to "extra-crispy"—and that meant going far beyond a new coat of paint on an old asset.
Click on all the things!
We didn't, however, ignore the past—we built upon it. Keeping the original spirit of the old buildings, we began exploring new designs. We created fresh silhouettes and pushed the individuality of each building, creating visually exciting upgrades as you progressed. This way, when you get that first shack you call a Lumber Mill—an oversized crate with some sticks and a dull saw in it—you're excited, but you know there's lots of room for improvement. As you build your army and finally get that third-tier Lumber Mill though, you feel like a badass ready to fight back against the Iron Horde.
I have to say I love, love—did I mention LOVE?—the Mage Tower. The library invites the player to grab their favorite book of spells (mine is Beatrice’s Magical Exploits Into the Wilds of Wildervar), wrap up in a blanket, plop on a nice soft chair with their favorite pet sitting on their lap, and read till the light of the fire dims to crackling embers. When we’re creating the art, we actually use small stories like that as a way to guide the scene. We use lighting, material choices, silhouettes, and carefully crafted details to invite the imagination of the player to look beyond the pixels and textures, and bring their character into the world. I like to think of the buildings as characters themselves, each with a personality, from the little nicks on a doorway, to the warm hearth in the Town Hall.
We hope you feel right at home when you step into each of these places.
“One of the most powerful aspects of an artist’s mission is storytelling, and working to fill the space in the Garrison has allowed us to really focus in on that. Decorating a particular set or building provides an opportunity to communicate a lot of information about how the space is used and how it was made, and all the pieces come together to help convey an overarching theme. Little nuances and details in the props can help give the player context into what’s happening in a particular area of the game, and ultimately, really help to tell the story of an entire zone.
We approach each of these tasks on both micro and macro levels—evaluating how each smaller piece comes together as a larger whole. This is where the real challenge lies, since we don’t want to visually overwhelm the player—but at the same time, we're giving everyone the visually striking, high-quality level of art they've come to expect from World of Warcraft.”
—Jordan Powers, Associate Artist
“In Warlords of Draenor, your Garrison is your fortress—a foothold in a savage world, and ultimately a place to call your own. One of our main goals with the Garrison was to really bring some life and sense of purpose to the characters who inhabit the world, and to make them feel like they belong in their environment. What that entails for us as artists is to brainstorm, develop, and refine a scenario that not only gives a narrative to a particular space, but helps make the player feel like the world is cohesive and real. We strive to give each set of props—what we call a 'kitKit
Short for “style kit,” this refers to an overall story the art should be consistently conveying. This helps to achieve a cohesive look as multiple artists contribute individual elements to a larger piece.'—logical treatment and placement so that the NPCs look as if they truly belong there. In doing so, it hopefully allows for a more visually rich and rewarding journey for the player.”
—Eric Braddock, Associate 3D Artist
“For the profession hubs, we wanted the player to be able to experience leveling up their chosen professions not only with skill points, but also visually through their Garrison. As the player progresses, each profession hub will level up, and the associated building will become more visually impressive. We treated each profession hub as an opportunity to describe the NPC who works there—how neat or messy they are, how they might work, and how they’ll grow with you as you level up your Garrison. We also thought it would be fun to throw in small hints of different races that might be associated with certain professions, such as draenei for Jewelcrafting or dwarves for Blacksmithing, to tie in the many races that give the World of Warcraft its depth and history.“
—Jay Hwang, Senior 3D Artist
Chris Robinson (@artofcgrobinson), senior art director, World of Warcraft. Mage Tower and Lumber Mill by Rhett Torgoley, senior artist, and Lianna Tai, associate 3D artist, with direction from Wendy Vetter, lead dungeon artist; Lumber Mill concept by Jimmy Lo, senior concept artist; Storehouse by Jordan Powers, associate artist; Enchanting hub by Eric Braddock, associate 3D artist; Jewelcrafting hub by Jay Hwang, senior 3D artist, with direction from Eric Browning, lead prop artist.
Thank you for a great presentation of VoD Artwork and Thoughts!I was exited, now I'm super exited!I really love the artwork here, now all I need are to test it and see how it's gonna work ingame.My first thought, when I heard of the Garrison idea was : Age of Empires! How on earth are Blizzard able to merge it into WoW, but after this presentation, I surrender! It feels right!The libary needs one thing tho, a copy of the original Monty Pyton comfy chair! Please draw me one!If the dance studio becomes a reality, it needs a stereo sound system, so I can listen to music when I dance the night away, practicing new cool moves on my toon.( wonder if there are an artist who can draw a long line of hordes who are wating outside the gate to VoD, wearing dance outfits form the early '70, impatient to get in and dance)?"You should be dancing, yeah! Dancing yeah!"
Its awesome , i've remembered "travian" for a sec!
Setting aside the practical applications, I am really looking forward to garrisons just from a customization perspective. Even though WoW is a multi-player game, there are occasions that I stand about idly. Unlike the farm, the garrison seems like a neat place to spend that time: a village of my own creation that tells my character's story in a way.I hope that eventually they make additional skins, such as Night Elf and Forsaken/Scourge like WC3, because that is precisely what I see: Updated WC3 graphics.The practical applications also pique my interest. Sending guys off to loot and gather, recruit, perform missions - as optional time sinks I really like the idea and if it works I really hope Garrisons continue to evolve beyond WoD.
I'm kind of sad about how the Horde stable looks, to be honest. The Alliance buildings in this picture all look cozy and sturdy, the Horde one looks like it was lashed together from a couple of trees and some spare chains. I know it's a minor complaint and it suits the Orcish aesthetic style, but I mainly play Blood Elves (my main being a Priest) and it's completely inappropriate for them. Still, I can hope for Silvermoon-style buildings >.>
Humm, these ideas look amazing. Can't wait for the end results. I would like to choose the race of my followers though... I mean, I don't want to have a weirdly assembled party of mixed faction followers. I'm a bit of a purist, I play nelfs, so I would like my followers to be all nelfs... or at least be able to make teams. Say Draenei followers to do my JC stuff, Worgens doing skinning, Taurens doing herb gathering... let's face it, it just makes sense..The race garrison customization would also be really cool. For example, choosing what mounts my followers ride (that could be what the stable is all about) or make it so that they ride what the player rides.Being able to go out on missions with them (say killing a rare that would be impossible to solo otherwise)... the Zandalari rares from MoP come to mind... after the buff of course (I used to solo them with my monk tank).Being able to take followers to do old content, like dungeons or raids would be awesome too. Or maybe as support for certain quests. Not to mention if doing follower PvP was allowed... kinda what used to happen while doing some Avengers of Hyal dailies. Seeing everyone running around with 2 - 4 of their followers (dungeon party size) would be amazing, and it could be another thing to show off.I consider the garrison idea brings a varity in play options that WoW is in dire need off. More options for solo playing, cause let's face it, you can't always depend on people showing up of doing their jobs. Plus, the rest (usual) part of the game is still there, so it not like the game loses its essence. If you don't want to, simply don't go into it.Great work Blizz, keep it up.
I'm really enjoying the new look and feel to the designs I've seen so far. They kind of remind me of what Warcraft III felt like when it was new, but much, much smoother.
Breed epic pets? BREED EPIC PETS?I can't wait :D
The dance studio was content cut from...BC I believe, where you could mix and match different dance animations from all off the races.
This sounds awesome; can't wait to get started. Kinda reminds me of the old Age of Empires.Only thing is I wish it was an Acct bound garrison. I have 12 - 90's that will need to build these..
I'm going to have the most fabulous Garrison in the entire game, let's get this started
I swear, every time Blizzard adds something for pets they make the pet collecting experience less fun..."Hey! You can get Epic pets now!""Oh, there'll be a way to make all my current favorite pets Epic?""Nope. You'll have to breed them. Which means you'll probably need 2 of them or some %^&*. Then you'll have to level the new one even though you already had one that was level 25! Enjoy!"
I find this fascinating, After all as the are (Currently) not adding any new classes or races, so they have to mix it up somehow.
all looks good its got really good detail look forward to seeing the rest of the models on the buildings
The one thing I'm sort of concerned about is wouldn't the entire terrain be littered with garrisons if they're not phased? Wouldn't it make things sort of ugly? I get that only certain zones will be devoted to this ("trailer parks") but won't they run out of room? Sure having your own garrison is a lot of fun, but do you really want to have to stare at loads of others?yeah i was wondering about that when i first heard about this, actauly hoping that these garrisons are private for that reason. Wont look too good if the zone is clustered with garrisons, that would really take away the appeal to building them with so many others around you like that.